Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Feb. ’21, Pt. I: ‘Fantasy Island,’ ‘The Way Back,’ and More

The Way Back Still Image
Ben Affleck in ‘The Way Back.’ — Photo: Richard Foreman / Warner Bros.

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at a couple of films that I didn’t get the chance to watch in 2020 — specifically Fantasy Island and The Way Back. But I also give you my thoughts on two 2021 documentaries — the latest Netflix true-crime docu-series and a Marvel Comics documentary film on Disney+. Continue reading “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Feb. ’21, Pt. I: ‘Fantasy Island,’ ‘The Way Back,’ and More”

REVIEW: The Dig (2021)

Carey Mulligan, Archie Barnes, and Ralph Fiennes in ‘The Dig.’ — Photo: Larry Horricks / Netflix.

Directed by Simon Stone — Screenplay by Moira Buffini.

Back when I was just a very young teenager, my school had arranged for me to receive (what I guess you would call) on-job training for a week with a team of Danish archaeologists. I had had a natural interest in archaeology, and therefore I was thrilled when I got the chance to learn from them. Over the course of that week, I archived a lot of items, I spoke with the archaeologists for quite some time, I got an early look at a history museum’s recreation of a Viking ship (if memory serves), and I even got to take part in an actual excavation. For this reason, I had a particular interest in Simon Stone’s The Dig, a Netflix original film about a historic excavation in England in 1939, and I actually really enjoyed watching it and learning about Basil Brown and Edith Pretty. But I will say that this period drama is probably a little bit too slow for your average Netflix subscriber. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Dig (2021)”

Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Jan. ’21: ‘Cobra Kai’ and ‘Uncle Frank’

Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, and Peter Macdissi in ‘Uncle Frank,’ — Photo: Brownie Harris/Amazon Studios

In this edition of my monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at Alan Ball’s latest film, Uncle Frank, starring Paul Bettany and Sophia Lillis, and I talk about how I’ve binge-watched the delightful YouTube/Netflix Original Series, Cobra Kai. Continue reading “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Jan. ’21: ‘Cobra Kai’ and ‘Uncle Frank’”

REVIEW: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020 – TV Series)

Photo: Eike Schroter / Netflix.

Series Created by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House; Doctor Sleep) — Available on Netflix.

I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Flanagan for a couple of years now. He is a horror-focused filmmaker, who hasn’t yet made a huge misstep. Instead, he has actually made some of the previous decade’s very best horror films. Gerald’s Game was one of the best and biggest film surprises of 2017, and his sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, was phenomenal. On Netflix, he has also been given the chance to create, direct, and shepherd the outstanding horror series The Haunting of Hill House, which was such a runaway success that it became an anthology series. The Haunting of Bly Manor is the next chapter of that great horror anthology series, and, even though it is not as good or memorable as Hill House, Bly Manor is another great entry in Flanagan’s increasingly impressive horror oeuvre. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020 – TV Series)”

REVIEW: Outside the Wire (2021)

Outside the Wire Image
‘Outside the Wire,’ — Photo: Jonathan Prime / Netflix.

Directed by Mikael Håfström — Screenplay by Rob Yescombe & Rowan Athale.

In 2020, Netflix found some success by placing a Marvel star in a fast-paced action movie with a somewhat forgettable plot with the Chris Hemsworth-led Extraction, which I liked. Now, in 2021, Netflix is hoping that they can do the same thing again with Outside the Wire, a science fiction action film starring Anthony Mackie, from the director of the John Cusack-led 1408, which I actually also like quite a bit. Unfortunately, Outside the Wire is nowhere near as effective of an action film as Extraction was, and they forgot to make it as fast-paced as the aforementioned film. Instead, we’re left with a serviceable but incredibly forgettable and generic science fiction flick. Continue reading “REVIEW: Outside the Wire (2021)”

Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Dec. ’20: ‘Unhinged,’ ‘The Good Traitor,’ and ‘Equinox’

Vores Mand i Amerika Still Image
‘Vores Mand i Amerika,’ Still Image — Photo: Katalin Vermes / Nimbus Film.

In the first-ever monthly movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at a solid Danish film from 2020, I tell you whether or not you should watch the new Danish television series that was released on Netflix on New Year’s Eve, and I also finally tell you what I think about the Russell Crowe starring vehicle Unhinged. Continue reading “Additional Bite-Sized Reviews, Dec. ’20: ‘Unhinged,’ ‘The Good Traitor,’ and ‘Equinox’”

REVIEW: The Midnight Sky (2020)

The Midnight Sky, Still Image
‘The Midnight Sky,’ Still Image — Photo: Philippe Antonello / Netflix.

Directed by George Clooney — Screenplay by Mark L. Smith.

I don’t think I have a favorite genre, per se, but, it is true that I usually am a sucker for science-fiction. It is probably the genre that I find the most interesting, and, whenever a new film is on its way, I do get excited about what new ambitious story is about to be told. George Clooney is no stranger to science-fiction and space films since he has appeared in films such as Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris, Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, and, possibly most memorably, Alfonso Cuarón’s incredible Gravity. Due to Clooney’s own experience with the genre, I was very interested in seeing what kind of story he had planned to tell with The Midnight Sky, which he both starred in and directed. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a disappointment, for me. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Midnight Sky (2020)”

REVIEW: We Can Be Heroes (2020)

We Can Be Heroes Still Image
‘We Can Be Heroes,’ Still Image — Photo: Ryan Green / Netflix.

Directed by Robert Rodríguez — Screenplay by Robert Rodríguez.

Robert Rodríquez’ We Can Be Heroes is a sequel to his 2005 family adventure film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D. His 2020 standalone sequel tells the story of how after the superhero team ‘The Heroics’ — this universe’s Avengers — fail to prevent an alien attack, their children, who almost all exhibit X-Men like superpowers, must work together to find a way to save their parents and the entire world from the invading extraterrestrials. Continue reading “REVIEW: We Can Be Heroes (2020)”

REVIEW: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)

Still Image Boseman Ma Rainey
‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ Still Image — Photo: David Lee / Netflix.

Directed by George C. Wolfe — Screenplay by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Based on the August Wilson play of the same name, George C. Wolfe’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom primarily takes place in a recording studio in Chicago back in the 1920s. Here Ma Rainey (played by Viola Davis), lovingly dubbed the ‘Mother of the Blues,’ is planning to record several songs with her band. Rainey arrives fashionably late and is ready and able to throw her weight around, whereas the ambitious, animated, and flirty Levee (played by Chadwick Boseman), a young and talented trumpeter, is preparing his next move towards stardom while practicing with the rest of the band. While Rainey battles with both her manager and a producer for the purpose of having some control of her own career, Levee’s ambitious attitude doesn’t sit right with Ma or his bandmates (played by Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts). Continue reading “REVIEW: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)”

REVIEW: Hillbilly Elegy (2020)

Hillbilly Elegy - Still Image - Lacey Terrell - Netflix
‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ Still Image — Photo by Lacey Terrell / Netflix.

Directed by Ron Howard — Screenplay by Vanessa Taylor.

Though it was once touted as a huge player at the upcoming Academy Awards, the overall critical reception of Ron Howard’s adaptation of J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy has been surprisingly negative. What was once looked upon as the film that might finally be the vehicle that would give Amy Adams and Glenn Close the Oscars that their careers most definitely deserve, now looks like a surprisingly unengaging piece of Oscar-bait, which is a term that refers to films that give off the impression that they were made only to be nominated for Oscars. However, while I do think one performance is good enough to earn praise at awards ceremonies, the film as a whole is not memorable or good enough to leave a lasting impression. Continue reading “REVIEW: Hillbilly Elegy (2020)”